Media Contact

Caroline Picker, Puente, media@puenteaz.org, 510-501-7276
B. Loewe, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, bloewe@ndlon.org, 773-791-4668
ACLU of Arizona, media@acluaz.org

 

June 18, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

What: Press conference to announce suit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery

When: 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Where: Outside MCSO Headquarters, 550 W. Jackson St., Phoenix, AZ

Plaintiffs and their attorneys will be available for interviews at the press conference

PHOENIX – Several Maricopa County residents, joined by immigrant rights and civil rights groups, will today announce the filing of a new class-action lawsuit,Puente Arizona v. Arpaio, which challenges the County’s enforcement of two state laws that turn immigrants into felons simply for working to provide for their families.

The suit comes almost five years to the day from when young Katherine Figueroa brought national attention to Arpaio’s raids through a YouTube plea to President Obama after she witnessed both her parents being arrested at a raid on live television. That day marked the beginning of a long and courageous fight by Katherine to reunite her family.

Arizona legislators amended the state’s identity theft laws in 2007 and 2008 at the urging of then-Representative Russell Pearce (whose anti-immigrant agenda prompted his recall in 2011). Since then, MCSO has conducted over 80 raids and arrested over 790 workers.

“Our boss always told us that he would call the Sheriff if any of us complained about the extra hours that he forced us to work without pay. Fear of a raid kept us silent but then it happened anyways,” said Sara Cervantes Arreola, a plaintiff in the case and Glendale mother who was arrested during a raid on Lam’s Supermarket last year. “I’m part of the suit because working to provide for my family is not a crime and I want my record cleared.”

“Arpaio tries to say he stands for law and order but he violates the law more often than he enforces it,” said Carlos Garcia of Puente, an organizational plaintiff in the case. “After so many years of suffering, the community Arpaio has built his career on attacking is now the one taking the Sheriff to court.”

“Arizona overstepped its authority when it recast its identity theft laws to target undocumented workers,” said Leah Gasser-Ordaz, a student with the University of California, Irvine School of Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic, which is representing plaintiffs. “In their quest to make life so miserable for immigrants that they would ‘self-deport,’ lawmakers violated constitutional federalism principles and the fundamental value of equal protection of the laws.”

“Maricopa County is the only jurisdiction systematically enforcing these tools given to it by the state legislature,” said Dan Pochoda, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona and co-counsel for plaintiffs. “We know from past experience that when the MCSO gets into the business of immigration enforcement, it’s a recipe for discrimination and abuse.”

“Across the country, people are pushing back against unjust immigration policies. In Maricopa County, we will bring Arpaio to justice and continue on to ICE and others until Arizona reflects the best of our nation’s values instead of the worst of the politics of attrition,” said co-counsel Jessica Karp, staff attorney for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON).

“Of all of Arizona’s anti-immigrant measures, I’ve seen this one take the greatest human toll,” said defense attorney and co-counsel Ray Ybarra Maldonado.

Other plaintiffs in the case include Phoenix resident Guadalupe Arredondo and Reverend Susan Frederick-Gray. The suit requests a permanent injunction preventing Maricopa County from enforcing two Arizona statutes, A.R.S. § 13-2008(A) and § 13-2009(A)(3), against undocumented workers. It also seeks to expunge the records of plaintiffs who continue to face discrimination as a result of their felony convictions.

A full list of attorneys on the case includes Professors Annie Lai and Sameer Ashar of the UCI Law Immigrant Rights Clinic; Jessica Karp of NDLON; Dan Pochoda of the ACLU Foundation of Arizona; and Ray Ybarra Maldonado of the Law Office of Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado.

The complaint filed today in the U.S. District Court for Arizona is attached, and will also be available here.

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